Walker, Vogelbach lead Mets over Pirates 4-3 for 91st win

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets
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NEW YORK – Taijuan Walker won back-to-back starts for the first time in two months, Daniel Vogelbach homered against his former team and the New York Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 Friday night.

Pete Alonso got his National League-leading 113th RBI for New York (91-55), which is assured of its most wins since going 97-65 in 2006. The Mets maintained a one-game lead over second-place Atlanta (89-55) in the NL East.

Jeff McNeil, making a rare appearance in right field, saved at least one run with a spectacular catch against the wall that robbed Oneil Cruz.

“He kept going back,” Walker said. “Helped me out.”

Cruz hit a two-run homer for last-place Pittsburgh (55-90), which has lost 90 or more games in each of the last four fully completed seasons.

Walker (12-4) allowed three runs – two earned – and five hits with five strikeouts while matching his season high of 7 1/3 innings.

Edwin Diaz allowed only a walk in 1 2/3 innings for his 30th save in 33 chances. He reached 30 saves for the second straight season and fourth time in his big league career.

Mitch Keller (5-11) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings.

New York went ahead in the third when Eduardo Escobar walked with one out and, running on the pitch, scored from first on Tomas Nido’s opposite-field single to right. Nido ran through a stop sign from third base coach Joey Cora and slid headfirst across the plate as Ben Gamel‘s throw went about 15 feet up the third-base line.

“You tell runners all the time in spring, `Run and make them stop you,”‘ Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “You see a lot of guys take those baby steps or you can tell they don’t want to go. Our guys don’t do that. They want to go.”

Vogelbach, acquired from the Pirates on July 22, drove a 94 mph sinker to left-center in the fourth. The burly designated hitter has 17 homers this season, including five with the Mets. He had not gone deep since Aug. 22.

“Being on a team like this with so many good players and so many good people, you don’t have to be that guy all the time,” Vogelbach said. “It’s pretty special.”

Michael Chavis had a run-scoring infield single in the fifth, when McNeil made a leaping catch near the top of the right-field wall of a Cruz drive for the final out with two on. McNeil made just his fifth start in right field this season.

Alonso put New York ahead 3-1 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, when Luis Guillorme stranded the bases loaded with a popout.

Brando Nimmo added an RBI single in the seventh against Manny Banuelos.

Cruz homered in the eighth on Walker’s 100th and final pitch, a 429-foot drive to dead center. Cruz has 16 homers, tied with teammate Jack Suwinski for second-most amongst National League rookies behind Atlanta’s Michael Harris.

MOVES

Tampa Bay claimed OF Bligh Madris off of waivers from the Pirates. Madris hit .177 with one home run and seven RBIs. “It’s unfortunate for us,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “It’s fortunate for Bligh. This is a kid who put himself on the map and sometimes when you have to take guys off, organizations decide to make decisions.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

New York RHP Max Scherzer (left oblique irritation) is on track to start Monday at Milwaukee in his first appearance since Sept. 3. … RHP Tylor Megil (strained right shoulder) threw 26 pitches for Triple-A Syracuse, allowing one run and two hits in one inning. … RHP Drew Smith (strained right lat) needed eight pitches to get three outs for Syracuse, striking out one.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh RHP Bryse Wilson (3-8, 6.03) will oppose RHP Chris Bassitt (13-8, 3.44) on Saturday.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.